C-HIT Wins Four Awards For 2014 Work

C-HIT (Connecticut Health I-Team) won four awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for stories published in 2014, covering topics ranging from health disparities, to the use of restraints in state psychiatric units. C-HIT columnist Susan Campbell won a first-place award for online general column writing for her piece, Racial Health Divide in Utero, which the judges said examined a “serious and important issue in Connecticut: the disparity in health care for pregnant moms and newborns. Well researched and written.”

C-HIT senior writer and co-founder Lisa Chedekel won second-place in online investigative reporting for her piece, State Restrains Psychiatric Patients at High Rate, which found that hospitals in Connecticut restrain psychiatric patients at more than double the average national rate, with elderly patients facing restraint at a rate seven times the national average. C-HIT contributor Jodie Mozdzer Gil won a second-place award for in-depth online reporting for a story that examined emergency room visits for asthma. And contributor Peggy McCarthy won a third-place award in the same category for an article that looked at the myriad health problems of women veterans of Iraq.

Mental Health Services Available In Connecticut

The following is a list of some of the mental health services available in Connecticut. The Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital: The facility offers continuum of care across the spectrum of behavioral health services. It’s one of the first hospitals to treat mental health disorders in the U.S., and the first of its kind in Connecticut. Call: 860-545-7000

Natchaug Hospital: Natchaug provides inpatient and outpatient treatment for behavioral health – from psychiatric illness to chemical dependency to residents in Eastern Connecticut. Call: 860-456-1311

Rushford: Provides treatment programs for addiction and mental health disorders with offices in Middletown, Meriden, Portland, Glastonbury and Durham.

Aid-In-Dying Law Supporters Refuse To Give Up

When an emergency medical team resuscitated Joseph Yourshaw in February 2013, the first thing he said was “Don’t let them hurt Barbara.”

His daughter Barbara Mancini, an emergency room nurse, had earlier that dayhanded morphine to her terminally ill, 93-year old father when he’d requested it. A hospice nurse stopped by the house soon after the dose and immediately – against Yourshaw’s wishes – dialed 911. Yourshaw went to the emergency room. Mancini was brought to the police station. Aiding someone to end his or her own life was and is illegal in Pennsylvania, as it is in Connecticut.

High School Journalism Workshops: 2015 Sign-Up

Learn the Skills of Investigative Journalism:

Join the Conn. Health I-Team at one of our week-long high school journalism workshops in 2015. Sessions at Yale University, July 26-31 and Aug. 2-7; and the University of Connecticut, July 20-24. Program topics include:

• How to find great news stories

• What makes a good sports story

• Initiating investigative stories: where to look

• Conducting effective interviews

• Perfecting your writing style

• Using Twitter and Facebook as reporting tools

• Journalism ethics

What students said about our program:

• Lucy Norton of Northampton, Mass.: “After having attended this camp, I feel like I have a much clearer idea about what it means to be a journalist.

Federal Grant Targets Children’s Mental Health Access In New Haven

The state will use a $4 million federal grant to launch a pilot program in a New Haven neighborhood that officials hope will be a statewide model for improving early identification and treatment of children’s mental health. The five-year grant, announced Tuesday by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, will not add new mental-health services for children, but instead will embed care coordinators and clinicians in schools and pediatric offices, in an effort to catch problems early and improve access to existing programs.

The grant is targeted to children ages 8 and younger in the city’s Dwight neighborhood, which has a robust network of mental health providers, including Yale-New Haven Hospital. “This is all about making the existing services more effective and accessible,” DCF Deputy Commissioner Michael Williams said of the grant project, dubbed the Elm City Project Launch. He said the agency selected the Dwight neighborhood because it has a “tremendous array of services” to handle referrals to care resulting from increased mental health screenings. In other areas of the city and state, he acknowledged, “There clearly are a dearth of services” – a problem that the new grant does not address.

Diligence Pays Off When Shopping For Health Insurance

Connecticut consumers who carefully consider their health status and financial needs stand to reap the greatest benefits when shopping for insurance during the 2015 open enrollment period. The enrollment period to purchase coverage at Access Health CT (AHCT), the online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, runs from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 15, 2015. The law requires most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a fine when they file their federal income taxes.

Years After Weight Loss Surgery, Patients Seek Treatment For Eating Disorders

Morbidly obese individuals who had weight loss surgery are seeking treatment for eating disorders years after their procedure, prompting concerns among some experts about the assessment process used to identify surgical candidates. “They are terrified of gaining the weight back,” said Dr. Sara Niego, medical director of the Eating Disorders Program at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, who has treated patients with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder years after weight loss surgery. The lack of a national “gold standard” to psychologically assess prospective patients has led Connecticut mental health professionals to call for standardized criteria to identify those who are at risk before and after surgery. They worry some patients with mental health problems may slip through the cracks because each hospital and insurance company has different psychological screening requirements. “Unfortunately, there is no consensus in the field regarding what constitutes a psychological evaluation or what would prohibit an individual from obtaining surgery from a psychological standpoint,” said Kimberly Daniels, a clinical psychologist with the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Middlesex Hospital.

DCF’s Level Of Involvement A Factor In Child Deaths, Review Says

Child deaths in families involved with the state Department of Children and Families are more likely in cases where agency workers have spent less time assessing and interacting with parents, a preliminary review by the agency indicates. In recent legislative testimony, a DCF official said that an ongoing review of 248 cases – half in which a child under the age of 4 had died, and half in which there was no fatality – had turned up a number of “risk factors,” including the young age of parents, addiction and mental health problems, and a lack of “quality” contact with DCF social workers. “We found that, in the comparison or control cases (where no fatalities occurred), we were assessing parents more, we were visiting parents more. The quality of home visits were more of (high) quality than those in which fatalities had occurred,” DCF research supervisor Janet Gonzalez told members of the Committee on Children. That finding “feeds one of our recommendations, in regards to enhancing the assessments that we do of families in the home,” she said.

Forum To Teach Consumers How To Advocate For Health Care

With the flurry of changes affecting the health care landscape, how can consumers learn about reforms that affect them and, perhaps more importantly, how can they advocate for themselves? Those questions will be tackled at an Oct. 21 event organized by Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Quinnipiac University’s Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at 370 Basset Road, North Haven. Organizers hope attendees will be inspired into advocacy, said Adam Chiara, a spokesman for the foundation.

Blumenthal Hosts Discussion On Use Of Antipsychotic Drugs

US Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that while he is pleased that the state has cut its rate of antipsychotic prescribing in nursing homes, he wants to see more progress. He made the comments after meeting with a group of elder care representatives to discuss a recent news report showing that nursing home residents in Connecticut – many with dementia — are still more likely to be given antipsychotics than their counterparts in 33 other states. On the positive side, the state’s usage rate has dropped 21.6 percent since 2011 – more than the national average. “The challenge is, how do we do better?” Blumenthal said. “Better results are well within reach,” but they require training, adequate staffing and “a new mindset and outlook” that allows for alternative approaches to antipsychotic prescribing.